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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as “drones,” are a military technology now being developed for civilian and commercial use in the United States. With the federal government moving to develop rules for these uses in U.S. airspace by 2015, technologists, researchers, and news organizations are considering application of drone technology for reporting and data gathering. UAVs offer an inexpensive way to put cameras and sensors in the air to capture images and data but also pose serious concerns about safety, privacy, conflict of interest, perspective, and credibility. This research examines the early ethical considerations among drone journalism developers and digital information activists. It places those considerations against the backdrop of utilitarian ethical theory applied to journalism to suggest additional layers of reasoning that must be applied to drones in reporting. Finally, it suggests articulation of ethical guidelines and transparency with the public as means to address inevitable adverse effects of use of this technology.

The Military Visual Journalism Program teaches active-duty military personnel photojournalism and broadcast journalism. The Military Photojournalism (MPJ) and Military Motion Media (MMM) programs consist of students from the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force. These enlisted service members have been serving as mass communication specialists, combat photographers and military journalists. They come to the Newhouse School for ten months to learn how to become better storytellers.

Colombia has always been a head-scratcher for Americans not steeped in Latin American politics. The country of some 47 million people boasts one of the most vibrant cultures on the continent, with an enviably dynamic civil society, a booming entrepreneurial sector, and an innovative media that sets the benchmark for quality journalism in the region. But the country is also haunted by a horrific legacy of violence, an intractable internal conflict that at the outset looked much like Marxist insurgencies in Central America but ultimately outlived its relevance, and any popular backing it ever had, but managed to endure thanks to its involvement in the profitable drug trade. As recently as 2006, the FARC supplied more than 50 percent of the world’s cocaine and reaped $500 million annually from the drug trade.

A few weeks ago, I downloaded a job-lot of kiddies’ songs from Amazon to keep my babies amused.  Uncle Larry unearthed rather an incongruous gem among them – Spike JonesDer Fuehrer’s Face.  Despite the initial WTF, and my kids’ indifference to the track, I find myself unable to get this particular – and most brilliantly mocking – verse out of my head:

Is we not the supermen?
Aryan pure supermen?
Ja we is the supermen
Super duper supermen!

It’s a version of the Oliver Wallace song from Disney’s 1943 Donald Duck anti-Nazi (or perhaps anti-Nutzi) short, which I post here for your enjoyment:

[Cross-posted from the WITNESS Hub Blog.]

I’m moderating a free panel in the NYC PEN World Voices Festival at 6pm on Thursday 30th April – “Quiet Revolutions in Storytelling” – at which we’re going to be discussing new media, storytelling and human rights.  We have three fascinating panellists, and I wanted to introduce you to their work, and to give you an opportunity to pose them your questions (you can submit your questions via the comment field below, or via Twitter to @witnessorg)…

First up, someone you might already have come across online – Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal.  He’s best known for his participatory art piece Domestic Tension (or, as he wanted to call it, Shoot An Iraqi).  Wafaa conceived the piece in the wake of the death of his brother Haji, killed during attacks by US forces in Iraq.  For the piece, Wafaa lived for a month in the FlatFile Galleries in Chicago, under fire from a paintball gun controlled by internet users. Aside from the global interest and controversy that this piece generated, it poses difficult questions about the technology of war and of participation, about gaming and consequences, and about the nature of solidarity in the age of the internet.  Wafaa kept a video diary throughout the month-long project – here’s the entry from day 1:

You can watch the rest of Wafaa’s video diaries from the installation on his YouTube channel, see him talk about the project, and read about his latest exhibition (or if you are in Israel, go and see it before it ends this weekend.)

The second panellist is French graphic novelist Emmanuel Guibert.  Emmanuel’s most recent work is The Photographer, a collaboration with his childhood friend, photographer Didier Lefèvre, about a mission LeFevre undertook in 1986 to photograph the work of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Afghanistan.  There’s an interview with Emmanuel, along with some of the pages from The Photographer, at Newsarama, and more images and background here.  I’ve written before about graphic novels as a uniquely powerful medium for documenting and discussing human rights issues – and I think Emmanuel is going to have some really interesting perspectives on the differences between film, photography and graphic novels.  Another recently-translated work of Emmanuel’s is the biography of US soldier Alan Cope, Alan’s War.  Here’s a succinct and astonishing insight into how he created the artwork for that book:

Our friends over at the VII Photo Gallery in the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, NY, are hosting an exhibition of LeFevre’s photographs together with Emmanuel’s pages from The Photographer (here’s the publisher’s view of the opening night of the exhibit).

The final panelist is Catalan professor of philosophy Josep-Maria Terricabras.  You can’t be a Catalan professor of philosophy and not have thought about human rights, and I’m looking forward to the professor’s reflections on new media and whether it really can foster social revolutions…  Here’s one for the language aficionados among you – Professor Terricabras speaking (in Catalan) about power and participation:

That’s it – remember to add your questions by adding a comment below or tweeting it to @witnessorg

(Unfortunately Kathrin Roeggla, the excellent Austrian playwright who had been due to participate, can no longer make it to NYC.)